Manchester Great New and Central Synagogue

Salford, Greater Manchester




Congregation History

(This History initially appeared on the website of the Manchester Great and New Synagogue)

The origin of the Manchester community is shrouded in obscurity. Jews appear to have settled in Manchester about the year 1780, congregating about the precincts of Shudehill and Long Millgate. The early settlers numbered about fifteen families and held their first services in a room in Infirmary Yard, Garden Street, Withy Grove. The first Synagogue appears to have been established by two brothers, Lemon and Jacob Nathan, who hailed from Liverpool, and rented the upper chamber of a house in Long Millgate. Lemon Nathan became President of the infant organisation, and its first Minister was Rabbi Ahron (Aron Jacobs), whose son, Alexander Jacobs, of Chapel Street, Salford, became one of the early Presidents of the community, besides establishing the first Jewish local charity in 1804. The object of this charity - the Manchester Philanthropic Society - was to grant relief during the winter months to poor resident Jews.

The earliest burial place was near St. Thomas's Church, Pendleton, and was opened in 1794. The Congregation removed in 1806 to Ainsworth Court, Long Millgate, where it worshipped until 1824. A new Synagogue was then consecrated in September, 1825, in Halliwell Street, Long Millgate. In consequence of a schism, which occurred about the year 1843, a separate Congregation was formed, who worshipped in Miller's Lane, and acquired a cemetery at Miles Platting. Eventually, however, an amalgamation was effected in 1851, and the Miles Platting Cemetery passed into the possession of the Old Congregation. The appointment of Dr. Schiller-Szinessy as Rabbi of the Halliwell Street Synagogue let to another schism, which never healed. With the support of Professor Theodores, Messrs. Horatio Michaels, David Hesse, Sikismund Schloss, and others, Dr. Schiller-Szinessy established in 1856 the "Manchester Hebrew Reform Association," which became the parent of the present Reform Synagogue.

The Haliwell Street Congregation removed to the magnificent structure in Cheetham Hill, later known as the Great Synagogue, where the foundation was laid on 5th Iyar, 5617 (29th April 1857), and consecrated on 11th March, 1858-5618, by the late Chief Rabbi, The Very Rev. Dr. N. M. Adler. In the year 1858, the Rev. Professor D. M. Isaacs, of Liverpool, became Preacher, dividing his ministrations between two cities. This arrangement continued in force till 1863, when he resigned in Liverpool, to give his entire services to Manchester. He served the Congregation as Minister till his death in 1879, and was succeeded by Rabbi Dr. B. Salomon, of Copenhagen, in 1881, who occupied the position until he passed away in 1928, at the ripe age of 82 years. He was greatly esteemed by all, irrespective of creed, and held a high place amongst the non-Jewish citizens of Manchester.

He was succeeded by Rabbi I. Abrahams, M.A., who was inducted as Minister on 10th September, 1933, and resigned in June, 1937, to take up an appointment as Minister to the Great Synagogue, Cape Town, South Africa.

The Emeritus Reader, Rev. H. Newman, was appointed First Reader in 1895 and retired in 1940; He was succeeded by Rev. M. Pearlmann, Rev. Newman passed away in 1953 in his ninetieth year.

The Miles Platting Cemetery was closed in 1872. The Cemetery at Prestwich, which replaced it, had already been acquired by the Congregation in 1843, and was finally closed in 1914. The present Cemetery at Crumpsall was purchased by the Synagogue in 1884.

In 1937, "Stenecourt," Singleton Road, was purchased and opened for worship for members unable to attend the Old Synagogue, Cheetham Hill Road, on account of the far distance. The new building, with its entrance in Holden Road, was erected in 1953 and was consecrated for Divine Worship on 1st Nissan, 5714 (4th April, 1954), by the Very Reverend Rabbi I. Jakobovitz, B.A., Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Communities in Ireland. The building was opened by the President, David Wilkins, Esp., to whom a golden key was handed by the Hon. Life President, Herbert A. Nathan, Esq., J.P.

In 1951, the Great Synagogue was scheduled by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to be preserved on account of its historical interest.

In 1952, the old assembly hall at the disused Prestwich Cemetery was demolished and a portion of the front of the ground was presented to the Prestwich Corporation for a Garden of Rest, which enhanced the front appearance of the old cemetery. In return the Corporation built the walls around the burial ground.

On 16th March, 1958, a special service was held in the Old Synagogue to mark the Synagogue's centenary of its consecration. The Very Rev. The Chief Rabbi Dr. Israel Brodie, B.A., B.Litt., occupied the pulpit. He was assisted in the Service by the Communal Rabbi, Dr. A. Altmann, M.A., and the Rev. M. Perlmann and a choir.

At the subsequent banquet the Guests of Honour were the Chief Rabbi and Mrs. Brodie, Judge Neville Laski, Dr. Barnett Janner (President, Board of Deputies), Sir Edgar Cohen and Mr. Sidney Salamon were amongst the distinguished visitors. The B.B.C made a recording of the service.

On 27th December, 1964, the Manchester Great and New Synagogue amalgamated under the title of "Manchester Great and New Synagogue." The New Synagogue was erected in 1889.

After twenty five years service to the Synagogue, both in the Great Synagogue and Stenecourt, as Chazan, Cantor Moshe Perlmann retired. A dinner on December 14th 1966 was held in his honour. Chazan Johnny Gluck took over as Chazan until Rev. Myer Freedman joined the Synagogue in 1970. He served as chazan until his retirement in 1997. A dinner was held in January, 1996 to celebrate his 25 years of service. In 1976 Mr. J.G. Schwalbe retired as the loyal secretary to the Synagogue, a position he had held for 44 years.

Dr. David Livshin was appointed Hon. Life President in 1983 and in 1991 Sydney Leighton, Joshua Herman, Harry Bor and Arnold Lister were appointment Hon. Life Vice Presidents and Leslie Haber was appointed Hon. Life Warden.

1991 saw the consecration of a new Sefer Torah funded by members and friends of Stenecourt and the event was marked by a celebratory dinner.

Rev. Gabriel Brodie joined Stenecourt in July 1944. In December 1994 a Dinner was held to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. In 1999 the new Beis Hamidrash was named in his honour in recognition of his fifty five years of devoted service to the congregation.

Sixty years after its purchase, the original Stenecourt house was demolished and in December 1997 the new building project commenced. January 1999 saw the official opening of the new building and in the same year Dr Bernard Wilkins was appointed an Honorary Life Vice President.

In December 2000, a ladies concert was held in the presence of Lady Amelie Jakobovits, to launch the "Marga Brodie Educational Fund".  This was set up by the Synagogue in tribute to Marga, testifying to the tremendous contribution she has made over so many years.


In October 2001, the Synagogue appointed Rabbi Benjamin Simmonds as Assistant Minister.


In March 2004, celebrations were held to mark the 60th Anniversary of Reverend Brodie's association with the Synagogue.  A new Sefer Torah was presented to the Synagogue in his honour and a Gala Dinner was held at the end of the weekend, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi and special guest Rabbi Berel Wein.

Back to Congregation home page


Explanation of Terms   |   About JCR-UK  |   JCR-UK home page

Contact JCR-UK Webmaster:

JGSGB  JewishGen

Terms and Conditions, Licenses and Restrictions for the use of this website:

This website is owned by JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. All material found herein is owned by or licensed to us. You may view, download, and print material from this site only for your own personal use. You may not post material from this site on another website without our consent. You may not transmit or distribute material from this website to others. You may not use this website or information found at this site for any commercial purpose.

Copyright © 2002 - 2024 JCR-UK. All Rights Reserved